I saw this band on fellow doomer Stonerobixxx's blog and figured they were worth a review or two. After all, these guys are from Cookeville, and I figure that's close enough to Nashville for me. They have a handful of releases, but it looks like this album, "Cosmolux", is their first full-length album. Though it clocks in at about 37 minutes with only 4 songs, it appears more like an EP than a full album, but don't let that dissuade you: this thing rocks.
It's a nice combination of pretty similar genres, doom metal and desert rock, with a good mix of hefty riffs and grooving soloing guitar. The album opens with "Neon Cross", a gorgeous heavy stoner rock piece with nicely understated vocals, driving riffs, and a groovy psychedelic feel. The second song, "The Ballad of Gray Livers" starts out as a mid-tempo doom tune, but soon simmers down to an almost Country (and not that pop Country shit) feel, like Johnny Cash on a particularly nice, lazy Sunday. The song doesn't sit still for very long however, and begins to slowly build to booming, fuzzy, gorgeously heavy crescendo, and rocks out until the end.
The next two songs are a two-parter, titled "Supergiant Pt1 & 2". Part 1 opens up with an almost drone feel, but a warm, you-know-something-is-coming drone. The swirling guitars fully kick in, and the lysergic landscape begins to open up. Definitely reminds me of Earthless, but with more of a psychedelic style. Part 2 begins, and down come the riffs. This is excellent, I'm not sure whether to bang my head or dance with it. The guitar solo is a little overpowering; personally I'd like to see the riffs take a bit more precedence. But that's a minor complaint, otherwise this song is fantastic. Everything starts to blend together at the end, speakers ring out, and we're left with a little bit of quickly echoing feedback. Excellent end to a superb album.
How many times have I used the word "psychedelic" in this review?
I recently saw Graveyard and Radio Moscow, two both purportedly psychedelic rock bands. While I seriously doubt those bands' psych tag, Hellbender absolutely embodies it to the fullest.
From desert rock to psychedelic rock to doom metal even to stripped-down country, these guys kill it all across the board.
Good news: They're releasing a split with Across Tundras (another group of rockin' Nashville dudes I should probably review). Check it out!
Better news: Almost all of Hellbender's stuff is free to download from their page!
ADDED Mon Feb 27: Just picked this up from Grimey's on Friday.
This thing is crystal clear, you can hear all the parts really nicely.
The cloudy blue vinyl is just plain awesome.